Historic City News has learned that a former construction inspector, employed by St Johns County, pled guilty in federal court yesterday to extortion of local businesses who were the subject of his inspections — he now faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
In August 2013, one of his victims informed the Federal Bureau of Investigation that 64-year-old Will Randy Rogers was harassing him and threatening to report non-existent code violations against his various businesses.
“Prior to reporting Rogers’s conduct, the businessman had already paid Rogers $1,500,” said United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III. “Thereafter, between July 2013 and April 2014, the victim made payments to Rogers totaling $6,000.”
The victim’s company ships products out of the State of Florida; and, if the false violations had been reported, they would have negatively impacted his business. Instead of allowing the extortion to continue, the victim cooperated with federal investigators. When Rogers had subsequent meetings and conversations with the victim, those interactions were recorded.
On April 1, 2014, after taking a $2,000 payment from one businessman, FBI agents stopped Rogers, driving his county vehicle, and they recovered the cash. Rogers entered into a plea agreement at that time. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Julie Hackenberry.